Publish date

31 August 2023

What are the gender pay gap reporting obligations for employers?

Employers with over 250 employees should be reminded of their obligations to publish gender pay gap information on an annual basis, in reference to a ‘snapshot date’ of either 31 March or 5 April. This will depend on the employer. The gender pay gap is calculated as the difference between average hourly earnings (excluding any overtime) of men and women, as a proportion of men’s average hourly earnings (excluding any overtime). It should be noted that the gender pay gap is not the same as equal pay, the latter meaning that men and women performing the same role, or work of the same level, must receive equal pay. This is a legal requirement and is covered by the Equality Act 2010.

For some employers, it may be difficult to determine whether they do have over 250 employees and therefore whether they are required to publish gender pay gap information. Part-time employees or those currently on leave (such as sick leave or maternity leave) are counted as one employee for the purposes of this obligation, and in addition, any self-employed workers who are not able to sub-contract their work must be included within the headcount. Agency workers, and partners in a limited liability partnership, are amongst those who should not be included. Whilst the reporting obligation is in place for organisations with over 250 employees, employers with less than 250 employees are, of course, open to publish their data if they so wish. This is recommended, in order that all employers are committed to workplace gender equality and aware of how this could be improved within their organisations.

Gender pay gap statistics

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has reported that in April 2022, the gender pay gap amongst full-time employees was 8.3%. This represented an increase from 7.7% in April 2021, although the ONS has noted that data collection was more difficult in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and that lower response rates will have had an effect on the accuracy of data collected. Generally, over the last decade, the gender pay gap has fallen by almost a quarter, from a figure of nearly 30% in 1997. The figure sat at 9% just before the coronavirus pandemic in 2019.

There does remain a large difference in the gender pay gap between employees over the age of 40, and employees below the age of 40. There is also a much larger gender pay gap between the sexes in higher earners, in comparison to lower-paid employees. Whilst this is the case, the managers, directors and senior officials’ occupation group has experienced the largest fall in gender pay gap since 2019, and in particular, in the age group of over 50’s.

Gender equality in the workplace

The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination, and indeed sex is listed as a protected characteristic under the Act. It is important to consider the gender pay gap in this wider context, and for businesses to take a look at their practices and culture with this in mind. Provisions, criterions or practices within an organisation that put women, or men, at a particular disadvantage are likely to be discriminatory.

In reflecting on business practices, employers should consider how they can promote a culture that contributes to decreasing the gender pay gap. A key contributor to the gender pay gap is that women are often not supported in progressing in their careers after having children. This is evident from the fact that the largest difference in the gender pay gap is women employees under the age of 40 and women over the age of 40, who may have taken time out of work to care for young children. Firstly, employers should consider providing for flexible working where possible. This could include a hybrid working policy. By providing flexibility for employees whereby they are able to take time out for childcare responsibilities, this will hopefully encourage career progression for employees who have young children at home. Employers might also consider offering to contribute towards childcare, and encouraging men to take parental leave.

It may seem obvious, but employers should also look at any bonus or reward schemes in place, and consider whether they are inherently biased towards male employees. This could include considering the criteria for benefits and promotion, and assessing whether any of those might be discriminatory towards women.







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